Note: The audio quality of this episode was compromised by a poor recording device. We were working with translators and recording over the phone, which affected the quality.

Just like many other crowdfunding projects, this one starts with a problem. When faced with a need to lose weight, Mark Wood found that there just wasn’t a weight system that suited his needs. Enter the Gripbell. In this episode you’ll get valuable tips on creating a product, prototyping and taking your project to Kickstarter!

GRIPBELL | Versatile Grip, Workout Differently

Success Quote

“Never, never, never give up.” – Winston Churchill

Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

  • How to get started once you have an idea for a new product
  • How the prototyping process works
  • How to prepare your marketing before the campaign launches
  • What marketing initiatives bring the highest return
  • What conversions rates to expect on ads
  • How to set up rewards and pricing

Links

Connect with Gripbell

Transcript

Click here to view a transcript of this week's episode

Roy:
Welcome to Art of the Kickstart, your source for crowdfunding campaign success. I’m your host Roy Morejon, President of Command Partners, the top crowdfunding marketing agency in the world. Each week, I interview a crowdfunding success story, an inspirational entrepreneur or a business expert in order to help you take your start up to the next level with crowdfunding. Let’s get on with the show.

Welcome to another edition of Art of the Kickstart. Today, I’m honored to be joined by Mark Wood, owner and crowdfunding campaign of the Gripbell. Mark, thank you for joining us.

Mark:
It’s a pleasure. Glad to be here.

Roy:
Mark, your product came out of an injury which is always an interesting story. Tell our community how this idea came to life.

Mark:
Sure. About two years ago … Let me explain. I’ll give you a little background here. I was quite obese in the past. I was searching for a good exercise plan and I read a lot of about kettle bell and so I followed a program … It was a video tape and after doing that for a while I decided that I wanted to try and work on less muscle and just leaner and thinner and something that would be easier to use. I designed the Gripbell and it just seemed to be more user-friendly than the kettle bell.

Roy:
Interesting. After that started, once you saw the need for a new kettle bell technology, what was the process next in terms of getting started?

Mark:
I got on the computer at home and honestly I will tell you, I’m not a skilled artist. I’ll be honest. I used just a regular little program. I had MS Word and I just fooled around with the design and editing the design with what skills I had. Finally I went to a metal shop and I said, “Could you follow these dimensions, these rough dimensions?”

The welder said, “Fine. We’ll take your design and we’ll work with it.

Cutting them out, we went back and forth on that. It wasn’t perfect at the start, of course. Then my attorney, they suggested that I contact another company who does CAD design and they advanced my simple design and got really detailed with it. We went back and forth on the design. A lot of editing and it’s so much better after that. They had the skill set to do that. The company, the machine company they got connected with did the manufacturing and the process was so much better once I got them involved.

Roy:
Excellent. You don’t have a technical background at all. What made you decide you want to go into product development?

Mark:
Even though I didn’t have that skill set, I believed that I could find a better way. It’s just that I really believed in the idea. The kettle bell’s good but … Again, I wasn’t skilled in design but that didn’t bother me. I didn’t let that stop me. I had faith in the product and I figured it would work out. I had to start it and then find the right partners and people to work with. Now I’ve made it.

Roy:
How many different prototypes did you go through before you finally found the final one that worked

Mark:
Let’s see. I think there were four different designs. The first one was the one I started with and then once we hit on the fourth one, then that was edited even about four more times but it stayed basically the same. Some of it was just aesthetic changes to make it look more appealing. It took a few.

Roy:
How much have you roughly invested into the company so far to get it to this point?

Mark:
Probably around close to $250,000. We have private investors so all together, we’re in for about a quarter of a million dollars.

Roy:
I’m glad your campaign is raised well over that now and certainly the people have spoken in terms of seeing that there’s a need. Tell us what happened. What prep work did you do in terms of leading up the marketing of the Kickstarter campaign?

Mark:
What do you mean by preparing?

Roy:
In terms of getting the campaign set up and getting placement in the media?

Mark:
I’m guessing about three months prior to the Kickstarter, I started trying to do advertising, social media, Facebook, reaching out to friends and family through emails, making a video tape for YouTube, something that had a little humor to it that might get noticed. That’s what I did prior to the Kickstarter. Also, there was … I had some friends who did a little advertising for me as well.

Roy:
What was the most successful marketing initiative you did during the pre-campaign?

Mark:
Out of all those, probably Facebook was probably the best. Then maybe Twitter, that was probably … Yeah, those things I think got people ready to go and signed up on the email list so that could get the information and then people started joining. I guess they started signing up about a month before, we already had about 4,000 sign ups in less than a month.

Roy:
Excellent. Do you know what percentage of those sign ups actually converted during the campaign?

Mark:
I don’t know exactly but I’m thinking maybe 30% – 40%. I’d say probably 30%.

Roy:
That’s extremely high and you’re target must have been really, really well done in terms of the content that you produced on the landing page potentially as well as the offering.

Mark:
Thank you. I appreciate that.

Roy:
Absolutely. Your campaign is coming near to an end. After this, what happens next for Gripbell? Where are you headed next?

Mark:
We are planning to set up an Indigogo to be able to invest orders and we’re going to do that within the next 60 days. We’re also talking with the manufacturer and machinist and our backers were in the process of the box design. We’re getting everything ready for shipping and we’ve also been designing an instructional video tape of how to use the product.

Roy:
Excellent. How did you initially go about setting up your rewards and the pricing with those?

Mark:
We’re thinking about just a little bit of profit, the setup charges we’re trying to keep those as low as possible and the goal was to make sure that we met all of our requirements from our investors. We were looking at about a 2,000 range and so for the Gripbell, we need to expand our investors so we focus a lot on that.

Roy:
Excellent. Now we get into our launch round where I rapid fire questions at you. Are you ready?

Mark:
Okay. Yes.

Roy:
What inspired you to be an entrepreneur?

Mark:
I’ve been in business before and it was an ASL film company, American Sign Language film company, and I did that for about eight years. I loved working for myself and I wanted to set up this business because I wanted to really focus on fitness. I like the new experience as well and about making a product that was something new to me so it’s different.

Roy:
If you could meet with any entrepreneur throughout history, who would you want to meet?

Mark:
Good question. Maybe Steve Jobs. I’d have to say Steve Jobs.

Roy:
What would have been your first question to Steve Jobs?

Mark:
So many … I’d ask him how he decided to go against the odds and fight for his own product.

Roy:
Excellent. What life quote or success quote do you live by?

Mark:
Winston Churchill, the speech that he gave at Oxford University, the graduation speech. He said a very simple statement. He said, “Never, never, never quit.”  Never, never, never quit. That was really part of his own background and through his time in England, Germany and people would try to put roadblocks in front of him and from his personal experience, he never, ever, ever quit and that statement just sticks with me. Being the prime minister and all the great things he did for his country and you can see he was exemplified by that simple little statement in my opinion. It was short and sweet and I remembered it.

Roy:
Indeed. Where do you see the future of crowdfunding going?

Mark:
I definitely think the future’s bright. From what I’ve seen, people really like … It’s a beautiful process and people really love being involved. I think it’s got a bright future.

Roy:
Final question. Why did you choose crowdfunding to launch your product?

Mark:
I’ve wanted to set up a … I wanted to fight for the product and I thought it was something very popular these days and really getting noticed. People could see the product. We’re drawing in more investors and I felt like it was a good place to really show off the product and the idea. Kickstarter seemed to be the best way for me. Close to 300,000. We’ve been fighting the fight and we’re trying to be in the top percent of the Kickstarters and very few make it to 100,000, just very few. Maybe there’s 285,000 and 300 might make it to that amount especially considering we’ve gone above that. That’s a big deal for me.

Roy:
Absolutely. You’ve seen great success getting over a quarter million dollars in funding, over 2100 backers to date. I think you’ve built a beautiful product, Mark, so I really appreciate you being on the show. Finally, please give us your pitch. Tell us what you’re about. Where people should go to find out more about Gripbell and why they should check you out?

Mark:
I appreciate that. Go to www.gripbell.com, very simple. You’ll see everything you need to see right there.

Roy:
Awesome. Mark, I truly appreciate you being on the show today. Best of luck into the future with Gripbell. I know it’s going to do very well in the future. I appreciate you being here.

Mark:
Thanks for having me. I appreciate it. Bye-bye.

Roy:
Thanks for tuning into another episode of the Art of the Kickstart, the show about building a better business, world and life with crowdfunding. If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, be sure to visit artkick.wpengine.com and share it with your friends. If you need a more hands-on crowdfunding marketing strategy, please visit our website at commandpartners.com and request a quote. Thanks for tuning in. Catch you next time.